An Open Note to 4e Fans Upset at the Direction WOTC Appears to be Heading with 5e

I’ve seen a good number of D&D 4e fans on forums like complain that WOTC is ignoring 4e fans (and the design features of D&D 4e they like) in their rush to make 5e popular with fans of pre-4e D&D. I have no idea whether they really are throwing 4e fans under the bus as I haven’t even seen a playtest draft of the rules. However, I wonder why 4e fans seem so surprised that WOTC might do this, given that WOTC basically threw a large number of fans of 0e-3.5e under the bus when they came out with 4e, which was very different from previous versions of D&D. If a company was willing to throw a sizable number of its pre-4e customers away to try to meet corporate profit goals three or four years ago, why would anyone be surprised if they decide to do it again with a different set of customers as they chase their next corporate profit goal?

I understand that 4e fans are at least as upset about being thrown under the bus as 3.x fans were when 4e came out and while I could not stand 4e and am happy that 5e appears to be reversing course I don’t blame 4e fans for being upset. I just don’t understand why, given WOTC’s track record under Hasbro, they are surprised this is happening again only they are the victims this time. I suspect when 6e comes out, lots of 5e fans will be thrown under the bus in the next version of the edition mill. So long as WOTC sees a new edition every few years as the only way to make enough money to make Hasbro happy, I suspect this is going to continue to happen.

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19 Responses

  1. Capheind says:

    I'm not sure why anyone feels like they are being thrown under the bus. They have their fourth edition books, they can play fourth edition till the cows come home and there really isn't anything WotC can do about that.

    Oh maybe its the fact that D&D will come to mean something other than what it has meant for them…

    Well as has been the advice to us old timers who weren't fond of being misunderstood when we talked about THE D&D, suck it up. WotC owns the rights to "our" game and can slap that label on whatever they like.

  2. That should read "WOTC owns the rights to "our" game and can SLAP IT AROUND whenever they like."

    I feel for the 4E fans, although it also gives me a certain amount satisfaction to see their angst, considering how arrogant and unsympathetic they were when 4E broke the hearts of myriad 3.X fans.

  3. I don't think they're being thrown under the bus at all. But based in part on the past behavior of WOTC, many seem certain that this is the case. As a result, some seize upon the smallest words and phrases related to the discussion of Next, assume the worst, and go into a rage. I would argue that the 4E player base is the most numerous and most vocal within the outlets where WOTC is primarily seeking feedback, and they've been listening to their feedback overall for nearly 4 years now. There's no reason to assume that those voices, desires, playstyles etc. will be given any less weight than the others WOTC is evaluating. It's too early for anyone to be freaking out to the degree it has been, and I'm surprised that these 4E players choose to ignore the fact that what little word that has come out of playtests — mostly from current 4E players — has been quite enthusiastic.

    OTOH, I'll echo what Aaron said. The self-proclaimed "4vengers" were a nasty little bunch throughout forums in 2008 and beyond, and many deserve to get what they gave.

  4. As a fan of 4e (or at least someone who plays it and thinks it has some good ideas), my own personal issue is just that I don't want to see the game take steps back into things I didn't like. I admit it's totally selfish reasoning. And really, I'm not incensed so much as "concerned" that they'll go back to far… I actually wouldn't mind a melding of 3e and 4e, as there are parts of both I like… I just don't see a need to go back to far. 😛

    "The self-proclaimed "4vengers" were a nasty little bunch throughout forums in 2008 and beyond, and many deserve to get what they gave."

    There's plenty of angst and nastiness on both sides of the issue, and hopeing the other side gets f'ed over doesn't really do anyone justice. 😛

  5. Patronize WizBro with the the full knowedge that they see the downtime between new edition sales spikes as only a necessary evil or not at all, IMHO. They're not "by gamers, for gamers." They're by marketeers for disposable gamer income. They rely on blatant planned obsolecense just as much as Apple does with its line of i-gizmos.

  6. Anonymous says:

    From what i read online, 4e requires a steady flow of errata to be playable, so if WotC stops 'supporting' it, the 4e players may indeed be SOL. 😉

  7. Chad Rose says:

    My own personal feelings about 4e aside, I hope that 5e realizes some of what the 4e players liked about D&D as a modular piece.

    If not, they can do what other folks did ala Pathfinder and the OSR movement.

    Right now the best advice for anyone, of course, is just wait until we actually have something substantial to base any worries on and this would be the public playtest. For now, ignore everything you see, read or hear about as it's all just guesses, hype or grief.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Gotta agree both with the post and those who pointed out the past vitriol.

    Pardon me if posting a link here is a faux pas, but I wrote something about that, and this in general, even before 5e was announced:

  9. Old Guy says:

    I don't know how many times I've heard 4e fanboys tell the "old timers" that if they want to keep playing older editions, WotC isn't stopping them. After all, they still have all the older editions books.

    It would be quite ironic to see those same 4e fanboys suddenly become "old timers". Although, if I get a vote, I don't think I want to share the clubhouse with them.

  10. Randall says:

    @Will Mistretta: Sadly true about WOTC being more about marketing than designing. I was afraid this would happen the minute I heard Hasbro bought them. The purchase was great for the people who owned WOTC, but was bad for the tabletop RPG hobby.

    @Dungeoncurmudgeon: That was a great post you linked to.

  11. Randall says:

    Cancer Fund Update: We've hit $1500 point! (Thank you one and all). Drawing for EPT will be Monday evening!

  12. Khayman says:

    @dungeoncurmudgeon — ha! That was great.

    I'll be interested in the outcome but I think I've spent enough dollars on new systems. I wouldn't be tinkering with retroclones otherwise, and supporting outfits smaller than Hasbro. I wish the 4E players luck, but yeah, karma is a bitch.

  13. p1r8z0r says:

    I think Raggi said it best with his "An Open Letter to my 4th Edition D&D Brothers and Sisters". Google it.

  14. Battered Players' Syndrome.

    =This= time it'll be different, really!


  15. Oz says:

    I would be surprised if there won't be a rule module in 5E/DDN that uses very 4E like rules.

  16. ghostofmarx says:

    I just want to put out there that a lot of 4e players are in worse condition than older editions if WotC stops supporting their game. Many of the people I know who play(ed) 4e didn't buy books they got the Insider subscription and are totally reliant on WotC continuing 4e support in order to be able to play the game they like. So as much as I personally dislike 4e I have to say there's a whole heap of them who don't "have their books" and might not be in the "same" situation as the older edition players. So if they want to keep up 4e play they'll have to purchase the system again 2nd hand when the edition finally goes belly up. Paying for the rules twice is not fun.

  17. Savagist says:

    i hope the 4E players have fun making characters off-line. it'll show what a blast the game is if you dont have computer programs to make a character just to move your mini around. being constrained to a grid and "powers" that are useless without a grid is just an overly complex board game ("yo, thats SIM-play, bro." not really)

    there will definitely be some 4E ghosts in the game rules, but it will also mix itself with other editions ghosts and some new things too.

    theyre forgetting that the "modular" aspect proposed should probably cover their garbage grid rules, etc.

    where'd phantasmal force go in 4E? oh yeah, it doesnt fit into a battle grid. instead of creating imagination scaffolding – you should only think about how efficient you can be with your 3 actions on a grid while annihilating numbers and their miniature representation. boring.

  18. Parple says:

    The comparison 'older editions were thrown under a bus for 4e so it is the same as 4e being thrown under a bus for 5e' is asinine for one extremely obvious reason:

    There wasn't a public playtest and polling about what features should be in 4e, and certainly not one that went out of its way to excise possibilities from 3.x before the polls were posted.

    5e professes to consolidate -all- previous editions, explicitly including 4e. When every new poll or article comes out, the designers specifically dismiss the idea of doing something the way 4e did even when they are stating that it is basically the perfect way to do what they want.

    That, and all of the things they are bringing back are things that people -already know- don't work, whereas 4e was trying new and different things.

  19. Randall says:

    @Parple: The reason the designers are ignoring the 4e way so often is the 4e way probably does not meet what appears to be the primary design criteria of 5e: get back as many D&D players who stopped buying WOTC D&D products because they did not like the very different 4e way of doing things.

    While 4e looks to have been very popular with those who liked it, it apparently was not nearly popular enough to make the bean counters at Hasbro happy. Therefore the marching orders for 5e appear to be "do whatever it takes to get as many of former customers back as possible." As a tactical version of D&D, 4e was a successful game. As a commercial product, it apparently was a flop when it came to meeting the sales and profit goals set by the corporate bosses.